Tuesday, May 31st, 2011
I never know where the next fervent Six-Word Memoir fan will come from. One day I might receive a note from a pastor asking his congregation to think about distilling faith down to six words. Another day, a high school friend I haven’t seen in years sent over a note that Six-Word Memoirs have been a great exercise for the classroom back in the same school where I attended fourth grade.
I invited writer Elizabeth Wurtzel to tell a story at our Six-Word Memoir Show on Love & Heartbreak this past February because I liked her work, and knew she’d be a lot of fun to have at the show. She was, telling the true tale behind these six words, “My heart is without a compass.” What I didn’t realize at the time was that she was already a huge fan of the Six-Word Memoir project (and now writes and tweets them regularly @lizzywurtzel.
Turns out that after graduating from Yale Law School she returned to campus to visit Anne Fadiman’s Yale writing class on the week that they read her seminal book, Prozac Nation. “At the end of the class, we all did Six-Word Memoirs, which gave me the idea to ask people at Yale Law School to post theirs on The Wall (the electronic bulletin board),” she says. Lots did, from “If only I had another word” to “Fought the law; the law won” to six-worders about waiting for the second season of The Wire to be returned to the school library. Wurtzel says her own Six-Word Memoir (with an assist from Saint Augustine) from her college years is, “Give me sobriety, but not yet.”
Yale had the bug. Next, Vivek Krishnamurthy, one of her classmate’s at Yale, took the six words from The Wall and brought them into the physical space, creating an etching of the collective Six-Word Memoirs on the Yale Law School building. “For an attorney,” says Wurtzel, “this is something like the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.” That work of art is pictured above. Click on the image to enlarge, get out your magnifying glass, and enjoy yet another magnificent six-word creation.